The Ultimate Caregiving Guide to Staying Organized
12 Things You Need to Organize and Track for Greater Ease
When you are a family caregiver, everything can come at you at once and you likely feel overwhelmed and unsure what to do or how to do it. Do you feel so overwhelmed with the daily caregiving tasks that getting organized seems unrealistic? You need caregiver support! When I unexpectedly became a family caregiver, to say I was overwhelmed was a serious understatement. Now, more than ever, being organized was an absolute must. In this article, I’m sharing the Ultimate Caregiving Guide to Staying Organized.
If you are an advocate or know someone who is an advocate, this is for you. If you anticipate you will make health care decisions for a loved one, this is also for you. If you would like to avoid the caregiving mistakes I made, this is definitely for you. Lastly, this is for you if you think you may need care one day.
As a caregiver, an organization system is probably one of the most critical things you need to keep everything straight. It doesn’t need to be pretty; it needs to be functional. Click To Tweet
As a caregiver, an organization system is probably one of the most critical things you need to keep everything straight. It doesn’t need to be pretty; it needs to be functional. I needed to rely on more than my memory to keep all the details and upcoming appointments together.
“ As the advocate and caregiver, have pen and paper handy to take notes. This is not the time to rely on your memory.” ~ Tandy Elisala from Healing Through the Chaos: Practical Care Giving
Here’s your guide to creating a patient medical and life management file system
I recommend getting a three-inch binder and label the following sections:
1. Personal Information. This includes name, address, phone numbers, employer name and numbers, insurance, hospitals and any other name or numbers you need.
2. Medical Information. This includes information on diagnosis, surgeries, medical history, all medications, dosages, when and why prescribed, prescribing physicians, allergies, medication side effect sheets, pharmacy information, list of hospitals, doctors, and contact information. I also put test results in this section.
3. Insurance. This includes insurance cards (copies), medical plan coverage overview, dental and vision plan information, short and/or long-term care plan information, and insurance coverage contact information. NOTE: I had a separate binder to keep all the explanation of benefits (EOB) and bills.
4. Finances. This includes bank statements, receipts, and account information. NOTE: If you are the Power of Attorney (POA), be sure to keep receipts and other documentation on money coming in and money going out (for me, it was more money going out).
5. Household. This includes general household information for your loved one’s home (as applicable) such as mortgage and utility companies, account numbers, and contact information. I have a form that specifies what bills may be automatically paid versus manually paid, the amount(s) and due date(s). I kept all this information here.
6. Estate. This includes copies of wills, trusts, power of attorney, advanced medical directives, and do not resuscitate orders.
7. Attorney/Police. This is certainly optional depending on your situation. For my father’s accident, I had this section to hold all accident-related paperwork, reports, etc…
8. Rehabilitation. I had sub-sections for inpatient and outpatient rehab for both of my parents. I labeled each subsection with the MO/YR, name, facility name. For the outpatient rehabilitation, I included the homework sheets, logs we were to complete, appointment date and time log, etc…
9. Assisted Living. I had similar sub-sections as (h) and I also included a section for interview/preview. Here, I included my list of questions and space to comment on each question, observation, follow up needed, etc… for each facility I visited prior to making a decision for my parents’ care during various times.
10. Home Health Care. This included the company information, a sheet for monitoring visit days, nurse names, outcomes and action items if any.
11. Hospice. For me, information on this actually came immediately after my dad’s passing. Between the time it took from being transported from our home to hospice until his death was four days. I put information on their services and such after the fact. If you have a loved one in hospice for more than a few days, you can use this section to include paperwork related to the facility.
12. Doctor Visits. Here, I had a removable sticky label for each doctor followed by MO/YR tabs. Information included any summary notes from appointments doctors provided, my notes, lab or test paperwork to do, and their business card/contact information. You need to have room for a lot of paper to ask questions and take notes before and during doctor office visits. Alternatively, you could have a notebook for taking notes and ensure the notepad fits in the organizer between appointments.
At the end of each section, I had blank pieces of paper for notes within each topic/section. At the very beginning of the binder, I had several sheet protectors for any important information I needed to give, share or do.
Empowered Family Caregiver Podcast
Check out the audio version of the information in this post (plus some additional tips) from Episode 6 of the Empowered Family Caregiver Podcast here:
Caregiving Organizer Binder #2
I then made another 3-inch binder with sheet protectors and kept all letters/correspondence I sent out on my parents’ behalf. Keeping all documentation organized will help you easily reference materials. I can’t tell you how incredibly valuable it was to have a binder with copies of all letters I sent out on their behalves. Inside the sheet protector, I retained the letter, email or whatever it was that prompted me to communicate with them. I also kept faxes in this binder.
BONUS TIP #1: Include the names and phone #s of the 5 24/7 365 people that have agreed to be your emergency contacts. Put this list at the beginning of your binder, on your refrigerator, in your phone contacts and/or notes.
BONUS TIP #2: If your loved one is hospitalized, be sure to document any belongings such as hearing aids and dentures.
There is a checklist of everything we’ve discussed in our Empowered Family Caregiver FB group.
Join us here: www.facebook.com/groups/EmpoweredFamilyCaregiver
Here’s to happy organizing!
Your Turn: If you’ve been a family caregiver, are there things you needed to retain that are not included in this list? What do you think is the most challenging aspect of staying organized or being a caregiver in general? Please comment below!!
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